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Whyte Wash

Robbie Fowler rescued Liverpool's Coca-Cola Cup hopes with his second goal in two games since returning from an ankle injury as Roy Evans' side were happy to survive a searching test in this third round tie at The Valley.

Charlton, second bottom in the first division, were roared on by a full house of 15,000, who paid record receipts of £150,000, and thanks to David Whyte's brilliantly-taken first-half strike the South Londoners will be in for another jackpot in the Anfield replay in three weeks' time.

Evans will point to a string of missed chances in the second half for the cause of Liverpool's embarrassment, although Charlton keeper Mike Salmon pulled off two splendid saves to deny Steve McManaman.

But Whyte and on-loan winger Ricky Otto gave Liverpool's defence all the problems they could handle and Shaun Newton was desperately close to a dramatic winner in the last minute. Charlton matched Liverpool's smart approach work in the opening quarter and could not be begrudged an 18th minute lead when big Carl Leaburn nudged on Salmon's monster clearance for Whyte to lift a delicate lob over goalkeeper David James and defeat Phil Babb's desperate efforts to clear off the line.

Within three minutes, however, Liverpool were level with a typical poacher's goal from master marksman Fowler. John Barnes created the opportunity with a perfect chip over the Charlton defence and Patrik Berger raced through to clip a low cross into the six-yard box from where Fowler rarely misses.

Both sides had chances to nudge ahead before the break, McManaman twice being denied and Otto seeing a shot flash inches over the bar following a rare Barnes error. But there was no doubt that Liverpool created the better opportunities after the break and six minutes from time Berger missed the best of all, blasting high and wide at the end of another McManaman-inspired move.

Right at the death, however, Liverpool could have been knocked out in their first appearance in the competition this season.
James made a complete hash of the lively Otto's cross and young substitute Kevin Lisbie applied a clever touch before Newton's close-range effort was somehow scrambled around a post for a corner.

Liverpool manager Roy Evans was far from impressed with his side's performance in their 1--1 Coca-Cola Cup draw at Charlton.
He groaned: "We were sloppy. That is not to take anything away from Charlton but everyone was a little sub-standard on our side. We had a scare at the end which could have cost us and it was self-inflicted but you can't play well all of the time and we are happy to go away with the replay. We don't really need any extra games with our fixture situation at the moment but to be honest I'm quite pleased to get another crack at this one. I've certainly seen us do a lot better."

Charlton manager Alan Curbishley was surprisingly downbeat after his struggling team's bright performance but he said: "We set our stall out to contain Liverpool and it came off well.  "There is a fine balance between attacking and containing this quality of opposition and you have to get it right. If you go at them with all guns blazing they can destroy you."

David Whyte's 18th minute goal stunned Liverpool only briefly as Robbie Fowler came back with an almost instant equaliser and the Anfield team missed several good chances, notably through Czech Republic star Patrik Berger six minutes from the end when he blazed over a gaping goal.

Evans said: "We would certainly have hoped to put away at least a few of the chances we made but it didn't happen for us and Charlton deserved what they got."

Copyright - Press Association

Press' man of the match:
The Liverpool Echo : Phil Babb.
90 Minutes : Patrik Berger.

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